Search

A Very Hot Hot Sauce Story:

a decade of startup success

Hoff & Pepper is exploding across the nation. The award-winning Chattanooga-based hot sauce producer has committed to fresh, locally sourced peppers – not overprocessed, predictable sauces – and America noticed. With $3 million in total revenue last year and a recent investor campaign that’s raised more than $434,000, Hoff & Pepper is found in more than 4,500 stores from coast to coast, including a recent expansion in California.

Michelle Hoffman

Yet, 10 years ago, Hoff & Pepper was barely more than a start-up idea. Borrowing kitchen space, Aaron “Hoff” and Michelle “Pepper” Hoffman were bottling hot sauce as gifts for friends and selling their products at farmers’ markets.

Then, in 2017, they joined the Chattanooga Chamber’s INCubator, the North Shore business incubator located in the Hamilton County Business Development Center – which provides 127,000 square feet of entrepreneurial workspace and countless resources for local entrepreneurs and start-ups.

“We would not be where we are today without the Chamber’s Incubator program,” Michelle said. Trend talks with Michelle “Pepper” Hoffman about a decade of hard work, faithful vision and their hot startup success. 

What’s new at Hoff & Pepper?

We’re on the shelves at more than 4,500 retail locations and are very fortunate to have expanded all over the country. ACE Hardware is our largest wholesale customer. Most recently, we got into Erewhon — a high-end grocery chain only in California — and Sprouts Grocery which spread us as far as the West Coast. We can now be found all over California!

What’s on the horizon? What can we expect from you in 2024?

In 2024, we will continue to focus on expanding. We are in talks with Walmart, Fresh Market and World Market currently, with hopes of hitting their shelves in 2024. We will continue to focus on our core brand and our hero products: Hoff Sauce, Hoff’s Original BBQ, and Hoff’s Smoken’ Ghost Ketchup.

You’re a 2022 graduate of the INC. What did your time at the INC teach you? How important was it?

It was so important! From the first day there, I was learning, like simple things from how to accept and schedule deliveries at the loading dock to interacting with sales reps to packaging our products. We grew so much during our time at the Incubator and will forever be grateful for our experience.

I met so many people. So many wonderful interactions were fostered by the Chamber tours, which also taught me how to talk to people about our products, an important skill I still lean on today. When I didn’t know what to do, I could lean on the people around me. Being in an environment like that is priceless. We are thankful every day for the opportunities and people we met while in the program.

Hoff & Pepper sauces are available in stores nationwide, including Ace Hardware, and online at hoffandpepper.com.

Other Topics

As part of our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusivity within Chattanooga’s business community, the Chattanooga Chamber's Department of Diversity & Inclusive Growth proudly presents the Business Literacy Series. This comprehensive eight-month program serves as a cornerstone for empowering minority…

In 2023, The Co.Lab, our city's startup accelerator, and TennSmart, a statewide collaboration of public-private mobility industry leaders, issued a challenge to entrepreneurs near and far: help us address four of the logistics industry's most pressing issues:  Workforce optimization.   Smart…

Nominations for Protégé Chattanooga 2024-25 are officially open, announced Toya Moore, Leadership Development Director at the Chattanooga Chamber.   “Protégé Chattanooga is designed to support the development of young professionals to help them become our city’s future leaders,” Moore said.   “The…

Nominations are now open for Leadership Chattanooga’s Class of 2025.   During the program, participants will receive leadership development through immersive experiences marked by meaningful self-reflection, community service initiatives and networking opportunities, including meeting with local and state leaders.   The goal…

When Brandon Parrott texted a photo of his tomato basil soup to his mother, he had no idea it would lead to a business venture. Now, as a part of the LAUNCH Chattanooga Kitchen Incubator Startup Matrix program, his food…

All individuals deserve the opportunity to receive an education, engage in recreational activities and pursue a fulfilling career. Chattanooga is actively breaking down barriers to ensure equal opportunities for individuals of all abilities, spanning from childhood through adulthood.   Discover how…

Sign up for weekly updates.